Korean barbecue — tabletop marinated grilled meats with loads of complimentary banchans, or side dishes — is a one-of-a-kind, sizzling experience perfect for rowdy groups and dates alike. Here in New York, several spots even have private karaoke rooms, are open 24/7, and offer uncommon options like live octopus. Here now, a guide to NYC’s standout Korean barbecue restaurants.
Note: Restaurants are listed by geography, from west to east.
1. Gunbae Tribeca
Well outside the confines of Koreatown, buzzy, casual Gunbae offers a Korean barbecue experience with both traditional — 10 different kinds of bibimbap plus Korean stews — and unexpected — pork belly, dry-aged ribeye, and filet mignon — food and cuts of meat to grill. Following the feast, private karaoke rooms beckon diners downstairs for the full Korean experience without trekking to uptown K-town.
New York, NY 10007
2. Cote Korean Steakhouse
The Michelin-starred Piora team is behind Cote, which focuses on the source of its ingredients, especially the beef. As the restaurant proudly displays in a dry-aging room downstairs, Cote positions itself as a high-end, self-grill steakhouse rather than the more casual barbecue spots clustered a few blocks uptown. And indeed, high ceilings, dim lighting, and unique smokeless grills on each table separate Cote from K-town joints, setting the new standard in Korean barbecue restaurant. The butcher’s feast, its signature barbecue menu, is priced at $45 per person with a full meal of four cuts of meat, banchan, salads, egg souffle, two stews, and soft serve. Don’t skip the cocktails or varied wine list.
New York, NY 10010
3. Hee Korean BBQ Grill
During the day, Hee focuses on bibimbap and jjigae, or Korean stews. But at night the restaurant busts out the tabletop grills for special barbecue combinations for two and three that offer a better price than the a la carte menu. Plus, all combos come with sukiyaki, a Japanese vegetable soup. Compared to nearby Koreatown, where waits can climb to several hours, Hee offers a similar experience, minus the crowds.
New York, NY 10001
Gaonnuri’s stunning 360-degree view steals the show at this higher-end, special occasion spot — but the food manages to hold its own, too. The Korean barbecue menu, including kalbi and pork belly, comes with loads of banchan and is available a la carte or in a three-course prix fixe for $55. With customized arts and crafts imported from Korea and an upscale atmosphere, the penthouse Gaonnuri is a special treat.
5. Jongro BBQ
Possibly one of the most popular and mobbed Korean barbecue joints in Manhattan’s K-town is Jongro. Perfect for pre- and post-night out fortification with friends, this place is crowded all the time with young people wanting for good and affordable meats with a big portion. Fresh meat delivered daily and cut to order at the in-house butchery plus an atmosphere that’s an homage to Korea in the ’80s with posters and snacks from the era all add up to attracting homesick Koreans.
6. Miss KOREA BBQ
This 24/7, three-floor Korean restaurant in the center of Manhattan’s K-town offers three unique barbecue sets — Longevity, Happiness, and Love. Each set comes with four different types of meat plus a choice of traditional Korean stew, and the rest of the menu features a variety of classic cuts and barbecue options like beef, chicken, seafood, pork, and vegetable. It even offers dak kalbi (stir-fried chicken), which is a regional favorite in Korea. Bonus for night owls: There’s a discounted price for Korean barbecue sets and other dishes for overnight diners between 10:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. every day.
New York, NY 10001
7. Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong
Started as a famous chain restaurant in Korea, Baekjeong has brought its popularity to NYC, and big-names chefs like David Chang and Anthony Bourdain have taken notice. High-quality meats, with a wide variety of beef and pork cuts including pork skin, are on the menu alongside seasonally curated banchans, condiments, and a basket of lettuce. The grill is uniquely designed to cook eggs, vegetables, kimchi, and cheesy corn in the trenches encircling it beside the meat.
New York, NY 10016
8. Insa Korean BBQ & Karaoke
Opened by the team behind Red Hook’s The Good Fork, Insa is an all-around Korean barbecue restaurant and karaoke lounge in Brooklyn. There are nine different barbecue choices — including marinated kalbi, beef brisket, pork belly, and pork collar — and with each order, there are more than a dozen banchan and abundance of greens for wraps, including Korean perilla leaves. The ultimate Korean night out can all be had at this venue: Start at Insa’s tiki bar with a retro cocktail, move to the table and grill some kalbi and pork belly with side orders of soondae, or housemade Korean blood sausage, and soondubu, spicy silken tofu stew, and finish the night at its karaoke with more soju for the ultimate Korean night-out.
Brooklyn, NY 11217
9. Dokebi Bar and Grill
Dokebi Bar & Grill delivers a clean beef flavor — the meat here sits in marinade for just two minutes, in comparison to traditional marinade, which takes as long as 24 hours. There are ten different barbecue options, including vegetables, tuna, and shrimp. Each order comes with signature purple multigrain rice and banchan, and most of the barbecue orders can be made spicy upon request.
Brooklyn, NY 11211
10. Chung Ki Wa
This small, family-owned restaurant in Elmhurst offers classic Korean foods and barbecue with a wide variety of banchan. The freshly made kimchi is spicy, crunchy and even refreshing with no fermented smell, which makes it an excellent accompaniment to the grilled meats. Other banchan, including lightly-seasoned soybean sprouts and greens with soy sauce and a touch of sesame oil, make the barbecue meal stand out even more. On the meat side, choose from different platters featuring a variety of pork and beef cuts, available 24 hours a day.
Elmhurst, NY 11373
11. 149 Pocha
This hidden neighborhood gem exposes a variety of Korean barbecue. They serve familiar cuts like pork belly and kalbi while rare cuts like makchang (beef entrails) and sogopchang (small beef intestine) are also popular choices. With over 30 different dishes, called anju, that are designed to go along with soju, a traditional Korean alcohol, it’s inevitable to order several bottles at this place.
Flushing, NY 11354
12. Mapo Korean B.B.Q.
There are only two things that matter at Mapo — kalbi, marinated and de-boned beef ribs, and charcoal. This humble place can overwhelm at first with loads of banchan hitting the table all at once, but as soon as the meat arrives, the only thing that’s pleasantly overwhelming is the amount of sweet and savory flavors the kalbi has. Don’t forget to order the buckwheat noodles, called naeng myun, and house-made mandoo, Korean dumplings, to make this meal an ultimate Korean barbecue feast.
Flushing, NY 11355
13. Daeji Daeji
Daeji means “pork” in Korean, and since this restaurant calls itself “pork pork,” it’s not surprising that samgeopsal, or pork belly, is the specialty here. The pork belly platter features three unique flavors — wine, curry, and soybean paste — and the meats are sizzled and cooked on a traditional Korean cauldron lid, called “sot.” With the excellent kimchi, fermented at least six months, and friendly staff who is there to explain how to make proper lettuce wraps, this place sets a standard of what a Korean barbecue should be.
Flushing, NY 11355
14. Sik Gaek
Sik Gaek’s atmosphere is as unique as its menu; it’s a place where people drink lots of watermelon soju and party all night to crazy loud K-pop music fueled on by Korean barbecue. Besides traditional barbecue cuts like pork belly and kalbi, there’s duck meat and a variety of fresh seafood, including abalone and lobster, on the grill. Those more adventurous can experience live octopus, freshly killed and chopped in bite-size pieces lightly dressed with sesame oil and salt, that is still moving on the plate.
Flushing, NY 11358